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Most Republicans and Even Fox News Aren’t Going Overboard On Defending DADT. What Gives?

The issue of gays in the military is ripe for comedy. The Onion has been all over it. So too has The Daily Show. The Weekly World News as well. And so have the gay tanks. So why was Saturday Night Live‘s Fox News parody such a let down?

Perhaps because even the right wing noise machine has been curiously silent since Tuesday’s DADT hearings. “If this were a Sherlock Holmes story,” writes Frank Rich, “it would be the case of the attack dogs that did not bark.” Not only was John McCain one of the lone right-wingers to call for DADT’s continuation, but even the talking heads were taking a pass. Continues Rich: “The Fox News report on Mullen’s testimony was fair and balanced — and brief. The network dropped the subject entirely in the Hannity-O’Reilly hothouse of prime time that night. Only ratings-desperate CNN gave a fleeting platform to the old homophobic clichés. Michael O’Hanlon, an ‘expert’ from the Brookings Institution, speculated that ’18-year-old, old-fashioned, testosterone-laden’ soldiers who are ‘tough guys” might object to those practicing ‘alternative forms of lifestyle,’ which he apparently views as weak and testosterone-deficient. His only prominent ally was the Family Research Council, which issued an inevitable ‘action alert’ demanding a stop to ‘the sexualization of our military.'”

Rich points to growing American support for letting gays serve openly as the reason why the right-wing is tapering its rebuke. (“The occasional outliers notwithstanding, why did such a hush greet Mullen on Capitol Hill? The answer begins with the simple fact that a large majority of voters — between 61 percent and 75 percent depending on the poll — now share his point of view.”) But that doesn’t explain the full story, or even most of it. Polling says most Americans support having their health care needs taken care of, but that doesn’t mean they back Obama’s health care reform. (It also doesn’t explain the tea party phenomenon, but that’s another post.)

And with Michael Steele suffering a complete absence of control in the GOP, it’s hard to believe word is coming from high to “lay off this one.” Is Karl Rove calling the shots?

That there are so few Republicans out there attacking a DADT repeal is indeed surprising. It’s almost as if they’re hanging McCain out to dry. Or there’s our theory that involves Rep. Duncan Hunter Jr.: That railing against DADT has taken on such a fringe-y zealot feel, courtesy Hunter & Co., that reasonable and less polarizing Republicans don’t want to associate themselves with Crazytown.